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They asked a lot of this ski cabin.

Like a fine Swiss watch, a ski cabin should function dependably under a variety of conditions, need little maintenance, and be attractive to look at. Thanks to rigorous engineering for cold and snow loads, an efficient plan, and fine craftsmanship, this Mount Hood, Oregon, house lives up to the metaphor on ail three counts. For years, Chuck McGinnis and Gail Achterman collected photos of Arts and Crafts-style lodges and refined their vision of the perfect ski cabin. Once they found a site, they passed their wishes on to Portland architect Saul Zaik, along with a list of functional requirements. On the outside, pitched roofs to resist snow load, and a handy woodshed Because Mount Hood gets heavy snowfall, a primary requirement was that the cabin handle 10-foot snow loads. To shed snow away from the house, steel roofs pitched at a steep 45' extend well beyond the walls; snow is allowed to build up on the ground to help with insulation. A second requirement was to shelter the main entrance and a large storage area for wood. In both places the steep roofs plunge nearly to the ground, creating triangular sheds. A ski-storage wall is tucked under the eaves at the entrance to the house; the woodshed connects by a short, tidy run through a workshop to the fireplace area indoors. On the inside, traditional alpine cabin with a contemporary view wall As you walk through the front door of this 1,400-square-foot house, massive posts and beams reinvent familiar forms of the alpine hut: open space, central fireplace, narrow stairs, sleeping loft, steep roofs. Absent, though, are the characteristic small windows. In their place, large insulated windows open to views, gather sunlight, and express a modern and more friendly attitude toward the outdoors. The view windows wrap the northwest corner, which cuts a notch nearly to the ridge line. To maximize solar gain, overhangs above the notch were eliminated. (Because there's little roof surface above the notch, 4-foot eaves that elsewhere shed snow away from the house were not required.) In summer, the sun's higher angle and surrounding trees protect the room from overheating. By incorporating the landscape as an active design element, the windows forge a dramatic relationship between interior and exterior. Comfortable, well-heated community spaces that are easy to care for Rooms are arranged on two levels around a 27-foot-high, 300-square-foot common space encompassing the living, dining, and kitchen areas. The master bedroom and bath are on the ground floor, along with a workshop and sunroom. A switchback stair climbs to a second bedroom and bath, and an open loft. Dormers on each side of the chimney create two semiprivate sleeping alcoves; in a pinch, the loft can sleep up to seven. For heating the house, the real workhorse is an airtight, cast-iron box stove. "If I bank it properly," says Mr. McGinnis, "the stove will burn all night." And since no ski cabin is complete without a fireplace-typically long on romance and short on efficiency-Zaik included one, angling its side and rear walls to reflect warmth into the room. Sometimes the couple uses the forced-air furnace to take off the initial chill; otherwise they use wood for heating and cooking. The house is well insulated with rigid insulation (R-29) in the roof and 6 inches of fiberglass R-19) around the foundation, under the floors, and in the walls. From the downstairs bathroom, a trapdoor and ladder give access to a 6- by 16foot basement that holds the furnace, plumbing, and electrical system. Sunk 10 feet beneath the plumbing core, the room maintains a temperature that varies only 10' from summer to winter. The modern equivalent of a root cellar, it can store potatoes, onions, and beverages. Fine craftsmanship and big timbers for monumental scale Big timbers visually enlarge the small cabin. A pair of 10-inch-diameter peeled fir telephone poles support the 12- by 20inch main ridge beam. Metal hangers hold 6-by-14 secondary ridge beams that carry 6-by- 1 2 rafters. Contractor Tim Kennedy camped on the site for a summer. As work progressed, several craftsmen joined his crew: a furniture maker, who finessed the post-and-beam joinery, framed the dormers, and made the doors; a stonemason, who selected local river rock for the fireplace; and a metal sculptor, who designed and forged hangers supporting the beams. Describing the undertaking as a labor of love, Mr. Kennedy adds, "It was a treat to have time to fine-tune every detail."

Avoiding frozen pipes

and plumbing Even in the dead of winter, the owners leave the cabin unheated when they're gone. To avoid damage to pipes, water lines angle to drain from three faucets above a grate in the basement floor. Owners reduce water levels in toilet tanks and bowls, adding 1/2 cup of propylene glycol antifreeze less toxic than ethylene glycol) to keep remaining water from freezing. The water heater can also be drained.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Mount Hood, Oregon; includes related article on avoiding frozen pipes and plumbing
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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